Bhopal is home to numerous tourist attractions of architecture, monuments and historical places. The city of Bhopal serves as the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and known for their historical importance and glory.
Here are some places we recommend on your visit to Bhopal or any time later.
1. Gohar Mahal: Gohar Mahal was built in 1820 by Qudisiya Begum, who was a great admirer of art and architecture and also the first Queen of Bhopal (also known as Gohar Begum). This Mahal which was the first palace to be built in Bhopal, depicts a wonderful blend of Mughal & Hindu style of architecture and is one of the finest examples of archaeological excellence of past era. It has a Diwan e Aam and a Diwan e khaas and the inner area also has fountains, which even though over the time have been destroyed, but the tanks of the fountains and the majestic look is still retained by the archways of the palace.
2. Lower Lake & Upper Lake: Bhopal, known as the ‘City of Lakes’ has two stunning lakes namely, the Upper & the Lower Lake. The Lower Lake is called as the ‘Chhota Talaab’ whereas the Upper Lake or ‘Bada Talaab’ is also called ‘Bhojtaal.’ The two lakes are separated by an over bridge called Pul Pukhta or Lower Lake Bridge.
The Upper Lake was mainly known as Bada Talaab (“Big Pond”) until March 2011 & was renamed to Bhojtaal in honour of the Great King Raja Bhoj who built it. A huge statue of Raja Bhoj, standing with sword, was also installed on a pillar on one corner of the lake to cement the name of Bhopal as the city of lakes.
This lake is the largest man-made lake in India, which is also a major source of drinking water for the residents of the city. Unfortunately the Lower Lake does not have any freshwater source and so is not suitable for consumption purposes.
However, the two lakes support flora and fauna. White stork, blacknecked stork, barheaded goose, spoonbill etc which were rare sightings in the past, have started appearing. The largest bird of India, Sarus Crane is known for its size, majestic flight and lifetime pairing can be spotted as well.
3. Van Vihar National Park: The Van Vihar National Park is situated adjacent to the sparkling Upper Lake. This National Park was formed from a depleted forest area. In order to bring back and protect the rich flora & fauna, this unproductive land was declared a National Park in 1981 under the Wildlife Protection Act.
This park comprises some huge carnivores like tiger, lion, panther, bear, and hyena. On the contrary, the herbivores for instance cheetal and blackbuck are allowed to move around freely. There are also plenty of birds whilst one can even spot crocodiles, tortoise, snakes such as cobras, Russel Vipers, Pythons etc.
Due to the vicinity of the lake, the beauty and calmness of the landscape is enhanced. The lakeside of the park brightens up with the arrival of a troop of migratory birds during winters and due to its rich flora, fauna and wildlife diversity, it is one of the best National Parks in Madhya Pradesh.
4. Kamlapati Mahal: Kamlapati Mahal is an example of contemporary secular architecture of the early eighteenth century and the earliest extant example in the Bhopal Town. Queen Kamlapati was the wife of a Hindu Gond Tribe warlord – Nawal Shah. Raja Bhoj (the founder of Bhopal) built the palace over the massive wall of the dam separating the two lakes.
According to the history of the palace, Queen Kamlapati had committed suicide by jumping off the fort wall to her death. This monument was declared protected by the Government of India in 1989 and since then Archaeological Survey of India remains the custodian.
5. Golghar Museum: Golghar was built by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum in 1868- 1901, which has 18 doors and steps in circular part to go up. The shape of the building is completely round. A special band was arranged for the Nawab who used to come every evening here to listen to music. Many precious artifacts like Sher-o-Shayari, letters, etc written by the Nawab are still stored here. This ancient building was famous for entertainment in the Nawabi era. Golghar is kept as a Nawabi heritage in Shahjehanabad, now converted to a museum that depicts Bhopal’s history.
The heritage and history of the city of Bhopal has been conserved here and it’s a definite visit for history lovers.
6. Sadar Manzil: The Sadar Manzil which served as a Hall of Public Audience during the princely period is flanked by the Shaukat Mahal. The Shaukat Mahal, a 19th century palace designed by a Frenchman combines the Indo-Saracenic and Rococo architectural styles. It is a splendid palace made of white alabaster and has a series of arches. Exquisite floral motives are carved on the outside that gives it a very unique appearance.
The Sadar Manzil is elegant and stately. This place is famous for its exceptional architecture and aesthetic beauty, with its brick-red color and grand design. These two royal buildings are situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city.
7. Taj Mahal: Taj Mahal is a palace built by Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal. It is located beside the Taj-ul-Masajid in Bhopal, India. The building was originally named Raj Mahal (“Royal Palace”). The British Resident was highly impressed with the architecture, suggested that the palace be renamed the ‘Taj Mahal’, the one at Agra having been built by the Begum’s namesake Shah Jahan. The begum accepted the suggestion and the palace was renamed to Taj Mahal.
The architecture of Taj Mahal has British, French, Mughal, Arabic and Hindu influences. The palace has been built in the Indo-Saracenic style and is kept cool by the winds blowing in from the Upper & Lower Lakes. In 2005, the palace was declared a state heritage monument by the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
8. Taj-Ul-Masajid: Taj-ul-Masajid, situated next to Taj Palace is one of the largest Mosques in India and the second largest in Asia. The Taj-ul-Masjid is actually spelt as Taj-ul-Masajid as “Masajid” means “Mosques” (Plural of “Masjid”) and “Taj-ul-Masajid” literally means “Crown Among Mosques”. As one of the most elegant buildings in Bhopal, it stands tall with a pink facade. The mosque holds remarkable similarity with the architecture of Jama Masjid of Delhi, including the decorations. It is one of the most important landmarks in the city of Bhopal, and it is used as a ‘Madarasa’, an Islamic religious school.
9. Gates of Bhopal: The magnificent Gates of Bhopal were part of the walled city and a symbol of the mighty rule of the Nawabs who ruled Bhopal back then. After Dost Mohammed Khan rebuilt the Fategarh citadel in 1722 AD, the entire city was enclosed within a 16 km long wall.
The 300 year old Jumerati Darwaza, one of the oldest surviving gates of Bhopal built by Dost Mohammed Khan is located in the heart of the city’s market. There are 3 gates to the entrances of Shahjehanabad area, viz, Bab-e-Mohammadi (Lal Darwaza),the Gate near Model Ground next to Shahjehanabad police station, the Islami Gate at Shahjehanabad and Infantry Gate or Military Gate i.e the entrance into the Sultania Infantry Regiment.
The Taj Mahal Palace Gates, viz; Dakhil Darwaza and Teen Mohare complete the axis around Taj Mahal Palace. Kala Darwaza is the entrance of Taj-ul-Masjid & 150 year old Gate Of Bagh Farhat Afza.
Currently in ruins, the State Archeology Department is set to revive the lost glory of these gates in the state capital. These Darwazas continue to be important points of reference for citizens and historians.
10. Moti Masjid: The Moti Masjid is also known as the ‘Pearl Mosque’. Made of dark red bricks, the main edifice has a marble facade while the main prayer hall is constructed with lustrous white marble that shimmers like a pearl and thus, the mosque got its name as the Pearl Mosque. Built by Sikander Begum in 1860, the daughter of Qudisiya Begum this Masjid is an important landmark for the Muslims in Bhopal.
The impressive structure is beautifully designed and resembles the Jama Masjid of Delhi in its architecture and patterns, however it is relatively smaller in size.
11. Birla Mandir: Birla Mandir (Birla Temple) refers to different Hindu temples or Mandirs built by one of the prestigious business families, the Birla family, in different cities throughout India. All these temples are magnificently built, some of them in white marble or in sandstone.
This temple in Bhopal is an awe-inspiring spectacle that showcases a panoramic view of the city of Bhopal.
The temple was built in the honor of Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and her consort Vishnu (also known by the name Narayan), the preserver of the universe. Hence also referred to as Lakshmi Narayan Temple.
A national chain of the “Birla temples,” these temples of grandiose scale and design, have become major landmarks and part of the cityscapes of Indian urban life in the late twentieth century.
12. Bharat Bhawan: Bharat Bhavan is an autonomous multi-arts complex and museum in Bhopal, India, established and funded by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. The architect of Bhavan is Charles Correa. Opened in 1982, facing the Upper Lake, Bhopal, it houses an art gallery, a fine art workshop, an open-air amphitheatre, a studio theatre, an auditorium, a museum tribal and folk art, libraries of Indian poetry, classical music as well as folk music.
13. Tribal Museum: There are several museums in the ‘City of Lakes’, which reflects on the history and culture of Bhopal but one among them is the biggest attraction, the Tribal Museum. The Tribal Museum is a very well planned and beautifully placed themed galleries where every visitor is able to connect via motifs and artefacts representing tribal lifestyle. This museum celebrates the ways of life practised by the seven major tribes in the state – the Gond, Bhil, Korku, Baiga, Sahariya, Kol and Bhariya – through their crafts. Alongside the galleries, one can stop at the amphitheatre inside the museum which hosts plays from time to time. There is also a retail outlet, ‘Chinari’ for purchasing handicrafts and other beautiful exhibits at a reasonable price. This extraordinary museum is a space in which stories of the lives of the tribes have been told that seem to come alive.
14. Shaurya Smarak: Shaurya Smarak (Sanskrit is a war memorial and museum situated at Bhopal, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 14 October 2016. Shaurya Smarak is established by government of Madhya Pradesh at Bhopal in the heart area of Arera Hills near M.P. Nagar and Secretariat. Sprawled over a large area of about 12 acres, it is developed as a public park with imaginative and interesting architectural installations depicting the sacrifice of the soldiers. In the park there is a 62-feet high sculpture rising from the ground called Shaurya Stambh showcasing the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The Army is signified by Granite, The Navy in Grey and the Air Force in White.
15. Islamnagar: Islamnagar is a historical destination famous due to its rich legacy of being the capital city of the princely state of Bhopal for a short duration. It lies in the Bhopal district a distance of 12 km from the main city. The Afghan commander Dost Mohammad Khan came along in the 18th century and took the city into his custody. Dost Mohammad established the princely state of Bhopal and declared Islamnagar as his capital city. However, his rule was short-lived as in the year 1723, Nizam-ul-Mulk took the Islamnagar Fort under his control. Finally, it came under the rule of the Scindias from 1806 to 1817. Presently it is under the control of Bhopal.
16. Bhimbetka Rock Caves: According to legend, Bhimbetka is derived from the word ‘ Bhimbaithaka’ meaning ‘the sitting place of Bhima’ from Mahabharata. Bhimbetka has been a witness to a part of the human evolution exhibiting the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent and evidence of Stone Age at the site. About 45 kilometres South-East of Bhopal, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003 that consists of seven hills and over 760 rock shelters distributed over 10 kilometers. Of the 760 caves, 500 have paintings.
These rock shelters were discovered and revealed to the world in 1957 by V.S. Wakankar.
The Bhimbetka site has the oldest known rock art in the Indian subcontinent, as well as is one of the largest prehistoric complexes.
17. Sanchi Stupa: Located 46 kilometres north-east of Bhopal lies The Mahastupa or Great Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1989) at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures of Indian Architecture.
The Stupas of Sanchi were constructed on the orders of Emperor Ashoka to preserve and spread the Buddhist philosophy. It was in the year 1818 that British officer General Taylor discovered the site of Sanchi. Between 1912- 1919, he set about restoring its glory and these beautiful ancient structures were restored to their present condition.
Traditionally, Stupas hold relics of Buddha or influential Buddhist monks. But at the same time, these structures also explains how Buddha achieved enlightenment, freeing himself from the cycle of life and death.
Today around 50 monument remains on the hill of Sanchi, narrating the rise and fall of Buddhist art and architecture.
NOTE: This was our first Go Heritage Run in Bhopal and for us to organize these runs annually – check our calendar to know the schedule for the next GHR – Bhopal. Also subscribe to our newsletter to get this information right to your inbox.
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